OK Germans, it’s payback time!

New Year’s Eve is fast approaching, so my mind has turned to preparing for all the strange rituals that this involves in Germany. I’ve checked the times for Dinner for One, I’ve selected my fireworks, organised the menu…. and now I’m sorting out the Bleigießen.

Bleigießen, for those who have not had the pleasure of spending New Year’s Eve in Germany, is a form of teutonic fortune telling. The equipment you need is a small set comprising a metal spoon and some lumps of lead. You will also need a lit candle and a glass of water.

The idea is to melt the lead over the candle in the spoon, then pour the molten metal into the glass of water. The lead sets immediately into some shape… and from your analysis of the shape, you can predict your fortune for the coming year.

So far, so simple. On the back of the pack there are even instructions for the fortune reading. According to the blurb, your lead lump will come out looking like a goat or a ring or a sword, or something which is then attached to some predicted fortune such as “unexpected wealth” or “secret admirers”.

The problem is, first that my lump of lead never looks like any of the shapes described on the packaging, and second that if I do suspend disbelief and stretch my imagination as far as it will go, I end up with something that either predicts my own death or foresees a year of disease, ruin and  misery.

So this year, I have decided to throw away the packaging and write my own “fortunes”. This, I guarantee, will have far better results. Firstly, because the lump of lead is definitely going to look like one of my predicted shapes (I’m writing from long experience here), second because my predicted fortunes are far more likely to happen than “unexpected wealth” or “secret admirers”, and third because I’m only going to tell the fortunes of my German neighbours. The ones who for years have been foretelling doom for me.

So here’s my patented Bleigießen interpretation kit:

Used chewing gum: You will spend most of 2010 in the emergency room, bleeding profusely from wounds inflicted by savage animals

Roadkill: Impoverished investment bankers will take over your house and turn it into a squat frequented by illegal gambling syndicates

Traffic accident: You will suffer an unusual medical condition which results in massive overproduction of earwax

Rorschach test: Your German residency papers will be mixed up with those of an illegal Mongolian drug smuggler and you will be accidentally deported to Ulan Bator

Silly putty: A meteor will fall on your house, destroying it completely. Fortunately you are out at the time. Unfortunately you will have to spend the rest of the year sharing a one-bedroom apartment with your in laws

Lump of cheese: Giant rodents will invade your home and infest your family with bubonic plague

Have a great time at Silvester everyone!



Filed under About Germany, German festivals, Life in Germany

8 responses to “OK Germans, it’s payback time!

  1. Too funny! We are in the states for the New Year but just once I’d like to return early I hear it’s quite a party.

  2. Something tells me I might need that list tomorrow… a Bleigießen set has made its way home in the shopping today!

  3. I have another one:

    Book – if your lump looks like a book, you will need to buy the book you have sadly never heard of before this day, read it and drop dead laughing 🙂

    Guess what I’ll do next?

  4. It gets worse… having braved myself for our first ever Bleigießen with my in-laws, we proceeded and thought I had done rather well to get something that looked like a raspberry. Well, maybe…

    Anyway, close inspection of the packaging revealed a further complication that I had never heard of before:

    “Die Figuren werden am besten […] hinter eine Lichtquelle gehalten, dass man das Schttenwurf an der Wand deuten kann.”

    Just when you think you’ve got everyone’s lead lumps sorted out, you have to get a torch and start again!

  5. I did bleigiessen for the first time ever this year. I got a cotton swab, which I’d like to think means that I will not be losing my hearing this year. Cotton swab, unfortunately, was not on the package’s quaint little list. And I would very much like to know how the hell you are supposed to end up with half the shit listed on there.

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